Setting successful weight loss resolutions

Ah, here we are again - at the beginning of a new year. This is the time when many of us set unreasonable expectations for ourselves only to be disappointed later when we don't achieve them. What if this year we set a reasonable, achievable resolution? What if it was doable, and we did it? A favorite New Year's resolution relates to weight loss and fitness. That's great, and it's not something that should just be driven by vanity.

Obesity is a real issue, even within our sunny, active Arizona.

According to the website www.arizonahealthmatters.org, focusing on a healthy weight is important for many reasons: The percentage of overweight and obese adults is an indicator of the overall health and lifestyle of a community. Obesity increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, respiratory problems and osteoarthritis. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight help to prevent and control these diseases. Being overweight or obese also carries significant economic costs because of increased health care spending and lost earnings.

If you are setting a weight loss target for 2011, you should consider this from the perspective of not just what your scale says but what your Body Mass Index (BMI) is. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.

The Healthy People 2010 national health target is to increase the proportion of adults who are at a healthy weight to 60 percent. A healthy weight is defined as a BMI equal to or greater than 18.5 and less than 25.

So, how do you get there - to a higher level of fitness and a lower weight? One way is to start with the following key actions as outlined in The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation.

Change starts with the individual choices Americans make each day for themselves, their families and those around them. To help achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, Americans of all ages should: reduce consumption of sodas and juices with added sugars; eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins; drink more water and choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products; limit television time to no more than 2 hours per day; and be more physically active.

The above actions are concrete, measurable and doable, as opposed to setting a lofty goal to "get skinny by February." We all didn't put on the extra pounds overnight - don't expect them to come off overnight. Resolve this year to confront your weight and fitness challenge if you have one, but approach it in a way that sets you up for success rather than failure.